This old house

They say you can’t go home again, but I did.

I even bought my parent’s house and am raising my family there.

My house and I share a language, and I can translate each floorboard’s creek, each radiator’s groan. I can trace our house’s history through ceiling cracks, like rings in a tree trunk.

“When your Aunt Jenny was a little girl, she turned the water in the bathroom on and let it run. No one knew until the tub overflowed and water started dripping on our heads right during dinner.”

“See that broken slat in the family room door? Your grandma threw a hunk of cheese at your Uncle Mike, he ducked and the cheese broke the door. Grandpa said he’d leave it broken so everyone would see what a good arm your grandma had.”

Sometimes, as I tip toe down the stairs in the pre-dawn light, careful not to wake my sleeping family, I flashback to times I tip toed up those same stairs, careful not to wake my sleeping parents.

We’ve built a solid relationship, my 84-year old house and I. Like any long-term relationship, though, we’ve had our struggles. I whine about the unexpected house guests – the bats in the attic and spiders in the basement, and the house retaliates by giving me the cold shoulder on chilly winter days.

You have to watch what you say about our old house, or she’ll scald you in the shower or trap you in the downstairs bathroom. When she’s really feeling sassy, she locks us out and we have to climb over the balcony railing to get back in.

For a short period, I resented our living arrangement and wondered if the high school girl who lived here 30 years ago would be disappointed in the grown woman who lives here now. Had we not gone anywhere?

I realized, though, that goals are not always tied to geography, nor achievement to relocation.

We have time to check off a few more life goals, a big front porch to ponder them, thick safe walls to protect them, and plenty of stories to share.

Me on the front porch
This is 16-year old me in front of our house back in 1980.
Molly on the front porch
This is 16-year old Molly in front of our house in a picture I took yesterday.
Dad in the family room
I can’t tell for sure what year this picture of my Dad sitting in our family room was taken, but I’m guessing it is also 1980 or so, because that looks like my tennis racquet propped up against the wooden drawers.
Our house in the middle of our street 018
This is me in the same room in a photo Molly shot yesterday. (If you look closely, you can see the broken slat in the door separating the family room from the dining room.
I’m including this picture of my sister Jenny in the family room because she was a cute little punk and the overflowing tub was only one of her stunts that left a permanent mark on the house. She also wrote Jenny The Great and Wonderful in magic marker all over the house. (Also, that’s my eighth grade school photo on the shelf in the background. It’s my sophomore year photo on the shelf in the picture with my dad.  And, if you look closely, the same ceramic Packer football player is on that shelf in the picture with my dad and the picture with me. Funny!)



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